The sandwich generation, those who are parents and also have aging parents, face many responsibilities. One of the most important may be checking that their parents are paying Medicare premiums. Here are two examples that demonstrate what can go wrong.
Bart, my friend, lives in Illinois. His parents have resided in Florida for over 20 years. Last fall, his mother called him. She had been admitted to the hospital and wanted Bart to fly down to care for his father, who has early Alzheimer’s disease. A week after Bart arrived, he got a call from a hospital billing supervisor about making arrangements for payment of his mother’s care. He asked why that was necessary because his mother had a Medigap Plan F (Medicare supplement insurance); there should be no bills. The supervisor told him that policy was no longer active.
Bart discovered that his father had not paid premiums for over 16 months and the policies for both parents were canceled. Bart had to help his folks with the costs that Part A and Part B did not cover. His parents reapplied for supplements; however, without a guaranteed issue right, they didn’t qualify.
I heard about this second situation from a financial advisor.
For years, Karen had the same drug plan with monthly premiums around $20. Then, in January 2021, she got an invoice for $52, a $30 a month increase in her premium. She found out her old plan had been discontinued and she was enrolled automatically in a new one. (She didn’t pay attention during Open Enrollment and was caught off guard.) She took only one medication, so she figured paying out-of-pocket was cheaper than the premium. She stopped paying the invoices, and her drug plan was canceled for nonpayment.
In August, Karen was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (blood clots). Without drug coverage, she was responsible for the full cost of the drug, over $500 a month. Karen couldn’t afford the medication, so her daughter helped with the cost and convinced her mother to enroll in a drug plan during Open Enrollment.
What can you do?
In both these situations, the adult children faced ramifications because they had no idea that their parents were not paying premiums. If you have parents on Medicare, here are some tips to help ensure premiums are paid so they—and you—don’t face crushing problems.
Get the necessary authorization in case you must speak for your parents.
Individuals who are considered competent can do many of the following steps, with your support and guidance. However, too many times, premiums are not paid because a parent has cognitive issues. You may have powers of attorney, but these won’t work with Medicare. Here’s what you should do.
Become your parent’s Medicare Authorized Representative. This will authorize you to speak to Medicare.
Investigate becoming a Social Security representative payee. You will be able to talk with Social Security about your parents, if necessary.
Check with their Medicare plans (Part D drug, Medicare Advantage, or Medicare supplement) about becoming a representative. Each insurer has its own process. Do what is necessary so you can step in to help as needed.
Figure out what type of coverage your parents have.
The type of coverage determines the procedure for paying premiums. Start by checking cards in their wallets or invoices. If you see:
“Prescription drug plan,” they have a stand-along Part D drug plan.
“Medicare Advantage,” it’s a Medicare Advantage plan.
“Medicare Supplement Insurance” means they have a Medigap policy.
If the cards or invoices are lost, you can get information from either their my SSA account or MyMedicare.gov account, if you have the proper authority.
Set up deductions for Part D drug or Medicare Advantage plans.
These plans can deduct payments automatically from your parents’ Social Security benefits, when requested to do so. If not receiving benefits, your parents can make auto-pay arrangements with the plan.
If your parent is not able to deal with a plan representative and needs your assistance, you likely will need to be an established representative for the specific plan, as noted above.
Contact the Medigap insurer about payments for a policy.
Automatic Social Security deductions don’t work with Medigap policies. Your parents or you will need to contact the insurer. Auto-payment from a checking or savings account is probably the safest option.
Also, know that a Medigap policy is guaranteed renewable. If the premiums are paid, the insurer cannot cancel the policy, no matter what happens.
Confirm payment arrangements for Part B, medical insurance.
The parents in these two examples were receiving Social Security benefits, so Part B premiums were deducted automatically from the monthly amount. No action was necessary.
However, if they had not yet applied for benefits, they could consider Medicare Easy Pay, automatic deductions from a checking or savings account.
Once auto-payments are in place, spot check your parents’ checking or savings account.
If your folks change accounts, they need to notify Social Security and their individual plans about the change and make new payment arrangements.
Just in case, know about a plan’s procedures for grace periods and nonpayment of premiums.
Medicare has established procedures for nonpayment of premiums for Part B and Part D drug and Medicare Advantage plans. Check with the Medigap insurer about its protocol. The policies I reviewed have a 31-day grace period.
It likely will take time to put the right measures in place to ensure your parents’ Medicare premiums are paid. However, in the long run, it will save everyone time, money, headaches, and, most important, a loss of coverage that come with cancelations.
Do you know how to save money on Medicare premiums?
The Medicare program provides health insurance coverage to more than 50 million Americans, including those who are 65 years of age or older, younger people with disabilities, and those who have end-stage renal disease. The program is financed by a combination of beneficiary premiums and general revenue taxes. In addition to Medicare, the Affordable Care Act created health insurance marketplaces where individuals can purchase private health insurance with federal subsidies.
As the Medicare program has grown in size, it has also grown in complexity. For example, there are many different types of Medicare plans with different benefits and costs. In addition, the monthly premium for each plan can vary depending on your state or region in the country.
We will provide you with some tips on how to save money on your Medicare premiums. Learn about COBRA coverage, the Part A deductible, the Part B coinsurance, and the Part D Extra Help Program. Then, you can make the necessary changes to your plan. This article will also explain how to enroll your parents in the Extra Help Program. If you need help with your coverage, you can consult a licensed Medicare insurance agent in Surprise, AZ.
1. COBRA Coverage
As a child, you can choose to remain on your parents’ Medicare plan by continuing COBRA coverage for their Medicare premiums. Depending on the qualifying event, your parents’ coverage continues for a specified time. The Fund Office will notify you of your COBRA premium amount and monthly payment. COBRA payments are due on the first of the month before the coverage month. Missing a payment will delay your reinstatement of benefits.
2. Part A Deductible
In August, my friend’s mother was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis. Without a Medicare insurance plan, she had to pay the full cost of her medication, which was more than $500 a month. His mother was worried about her financial situation and asked him to help her pay the bill, so he convinced her to enroll in a Medicare drug plan during Open Enrollment. His mother never told him that she was not paying for her premiums, but now he knows and he can speak for her in this way.
3. Part B Coinsurance
The General Enrollment Period is open from January 1 to March 31 each year, with coverage beginning on July 1. The monthly premium will rise by 10% after July 1. After the enrollment period ends, people must enroll in Medicare Part B during the eight-month period following the end of group coverage or employment. During this time, there are no special rules. Individuals may lose their group coverage if it is for a specified reason.
4. Part D Extra Help Program
There are several ways to get help with paying Medicare premiums for your parents, and Extra Help is one of them. If your parents are under age 65 or have no other coverage, Extra Help is free and will not charge you a late enrollment penalty. To apply, visit the Social Security Administration’s Extra Help website and use the direct link to submit your application. You can also use NCOA’s BenefitsCheckUp (BCU) tool to see if you qualify for other benefits as well.
5. Medicaid Eligibility
If you’re under the age of 26 and your parents are paying their Medicare premiums, you may be eligible for Medicaid. If you were not enrolled in Medicare Part A at the time you first became eligible, you may have to pay a higher monthly premium than you would have otherwise. You will also have to pay this higher premium twice as long as you were previously covered under Part A. The good news is that there are some ways to avoid paying this penalty. The most common mistake people make is not enrolling in Medicare Part A when they are first eligible.
6. Plan F Supplement plan pays everything Medicare doesn’t pay
In order to get coverage, you must be enrolled in Original Medicare and Parts A and B. Original Medicare pays a share of approved healthcare expenses. Medicare Supplement Plan F pays the remainder of those expenses. However, it doesn’t pay part of the premiums for Part B or the out-of-pocket costs for Part A. However, Plan F is a great choice if you want to avoid out-of-pocket costs for Medicare-approved expenses.
7. Plan G Supplement plan pays everything except the Part B Annual Deductible
The Plan G Supplement plan is a good choice for people who want to keep their monthly premiums as low as possible while still getting comprehensive coverage. It includes all the benefits of Medicare Supplement Plans A, B, and C, with the exception of the Part B deductible. People who want hospitalization coverage are advised to opt for Plan G. However, you should know that you will be required to pay the Part B deductible before the plan will start to pay your medical bills.
8. Plan N covers everything except the Part B Annual Deductible
If you are a Medicare beneficiary, you can take advantage of a Medigap plan to supplement your coverage. You can choose to pay 100% of the Part B deductible or just part of it. Plan N will also cover coinsurance for some emergency room visits and some doctor’s office visits. It also helps pay some or all of your Part B copays. These plans are designed for Original Medicare beneficiaries, and will not work with a Medicare Advantage plan.
9. Plan N offers out-of-network coverage
Plan N offers out-of-network Medicare premiums coverage for out-of-network doctors. It pays the coinsurance for skilled nursing facilities and hospice care as well as the Part A deductible for hospitalization. However, it does not pay the Part B deductible or excess charges (the difference between what the provider bills you and the amount that Medicare approves). Similarly, it does not cover emergency room visits or copays for doctor’s offices. Although Plan N is community-rated, its pricing is not guaranteed and may change due to inflation or age.
10. Plan N has lower out-of-pocket costs
While the premiums for standard Medicare Supplement Plan G are more expensive than for Plan N, the copays for office visits and ER visits are lower. These lower copays are advantageous for Plan N beneficiaries who prefer transparency and don’t like to pay a high amount each time they visit a doctor. However, plan N’s copays for physician office visits and ER visits can rack up quickly. Plus, you never know how often you’ll visit a doctor.
Medicare Premiums Payment Options for Parents
Many people who receive Social Security benefits automatically qualify for Medicare. However, there are several things you should consider before signing up for Medicare. The most important things to consider are health and budget. When choosing a plan, consider whether or not you need a certain doctor, such as a family physician, to ensure that you receive the best care. Remember that Medicare Advantage plans are required to have preferred practitioners in their networks. Specialists will usually require a referral, so be sure to check the details before choosing.
If you’re looking for information about copayments for Medicare premiums, you’ve come to the right place. The amount you’re required to pay varies between plans and is often determined by your plan’s deductible. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you’ll usually have to pay a co-payment each time you go to the doctor, or if you purchase a Medicare Part D plan, you’ll have to pay a co-payment for each prescription.
2. Late enrollment penalty
If you are still paying your parents’ Medicare premiums, you may be wondering how to avoid the late enrollment penalty. The good news is that there are several options available. Medicare offers Special Enrollment Programs to help you qualify for coverage. You can also enroll in a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan. The longer you wait to enroll, the higher the penalty. Here are some tips for avoiding the penalty.
3. auto-payment options
You can also set up an auto-payment plan for your Medicare premiums. Although you can still mail in your payment, online payments are safer. You can sign up for the Medicare Easy Pay program or log in to your Medicare account online. Both methods allow you to pay your Medicare premiums using a credit card or checking or savings account. You can find more information about these options on the Medicare website. If you prefer to pay by check, you should contact your financial institution or bank for more information.
4. Helping your parents pay
Whether you’re preparing for your own aging parents or helping your own, there are some steps that you can take to make Medicare affordable. While you may be able to help them apply for public benefits or state-specific Medicare programs, it is still important that you speak with them about their options. A licensed health insurance agent can help them with all the paperwork. It is also important that you understand what Medicare entails and how to navigate it.
5. Medicaid benefits for people with limited resources
Several federal and state programs offer Medicaid benefits for people with limited resources. Although many of these programs are complex, a basic understanding of Medicaid’s role in a community’s health care system can be valuable. As a result, many Medicaid consumers are confused and often have trouble navigating them. Below are some tips for navigating the health care system with Medicaid. Hopefully, these tips will help you to get the care you need and keep your budget in check.
Find out how to save money on Medicare premiums in Surprise, AZ!
You want to do the right thing and pay your parents’ premiums, but it can be confusing because of all the Medicare jargon. You may think you’re doing the right thing, but could actually be paying far more than you need to. We’re here to help you take care of your parents. We understand the Medicare system and have a team of experts who can relay the important information so you can make sure that your parents are getting the best coverage for the lowest price.
Medicare is one of the largest government programs in the United States, and it’s free for many people. But the premiums can be costly for those who don’t qualify for free programs. Consider some ways you can save on your premium costs and talk to a Medicare specialist in Surprise, AZ for support.
We’ll answer your questions about Medicare plans and premiums, talk about specific circumstances and suggest different providers for different scenarios. We’ll tell you about any new changes in law and regulations so you can make informed decisions about what’s best for your parents.
Looking for the right plan that’s just right for you and your loved ones?
Whether it’s finding the lowest cost plan or deciding what type of coverage is most important to you, our team of health insurance advisors is here to make this process as easy as possible. Having health insurance is necessary if you want to be sure your family will be protected. Know that we’re here to help before tragedy strikes and it’s too late. The last thing we want is for any family to have that burden of worry in their minds. We’ll be glad to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
We’re a health insurance agency in Surprise, Arizona that specializes in helping Medicare beneficiaries and their families save money on their premiums. By working with the government, we offer various discounts and incentives to help you save money. Learn more about Medicare, how to save money on premiums, and whether it may be a good fit for you and your family. We can help you save money on your parents’ Medicare premiums and answer any questions you have. Call (623) 742-3878 right now to speak with a Medicare Specialist in Surprise, Arizona.